Business history is littered with the corpses of companies that were hailed and deeply admired, not just by ephemeral stock markets and their acolytes, but by highly experienced and intelligent management gurus. Enron is only the latest sorry example of a phenomenon that will undoubtedly recur: the new boys muscling into an established industry with new methods which achieve unparalleled growth and miracles of profitability that far exceed the going rates.

There are always two possible explanations. Either the sitting managements have become too conservative, too hidebound and so slow in reacting to opportunity that it is allowed to pass by. In other words, the firms have become too bad to be good. Or else the miracles and their makers are too good to be true. The new men and methods are not as successful as they seem, and the new order of profitability is partly achieved by doubtful accounting devices, or even worse financial juggling. Enron's collapse seems to have resulted from both exercises in false creativity.

Yet of the two possible explanations, the first is nearly always the most popular. Vested interests rapidly close ranks around the new heroes - loved by the investment bankers, the stock analysts, the media, the deliriously happy investors, the equally delirious option holders. Nobody wants to hear unpalatable truths even when the lies are transparent. Take the case of a company named Atlantic Computers. It was in the then large-scale business of leasing IBM mainframes to corporates. Its profits, even by the standards of a rich industry, were staggering - and its rivals couldn't understand this competitive edge.

IMPRUDENT ACCOUNTING


They bought the same machines, presumably on much the same terms, from the same supplier and leased them to the same types of customer at much the same rates, using funds borrowed at the same cost. Yet rival managers who pointed out these indisputable facts were ignored as jealous fools: they were simply being outmanaged by a more efficient and enterprising competitor. When Atlantic duly collapsed, its backers discovered the horrible truth: that non-existent profits had been created by imprudent accounting for the residual value of its leased computers.

As so often in management, you face conflicting truths in such cases. Any manager in any business must be aware of these collisions of different kinds of realities, the paradoxes of success and failure...

1. Managers get locked into internal norms ('the way we do things round here') and external norms (the way this industry works).
2. Both sets of norms decay in relevance and effectiveness over time, but loyalty to them intensifies - and stultifies innovation, experiment and responsiveness.
3. Counter-productive conservatism results in unthinking denial, which blinds management to needed change and competitive dangers.
4. Establishment thinking gives new entrants a great initial advantage, but they swiftly develop their own internal and external norms.
5. The norms include intense belief in their innate superiority over all competitors and a general 'we have nothing to learn' complex.
6. When the unbroken run of success runs into the all but inevitable stumble, the ex-newcomers succumb to their own brand of counter-productive conservatism; here, too, unthinking denial blinds management to needed change and dangerous practices.

If the worst comes to the worst (as it often does), the practices become even more hazardous, as the management increasingly invents rather than makes profits. The follies are blatant, but the underlying problem is a hard nut to crack, even for truthful and wise managers. How do you balance leadership of an established market with subversive ideas and radical change? How do you preserve the disruptive dynamics of growth when you are enjoying all the comforts of guaranteed markets? How can you have an organisation that is both self-confident and self-critical?

INTERNAL VICTORIES: TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT (TQM)


To use an analogy from the Trojan Wars, you have to follow Hector, but listen to Cassandra. That's one of the great strengths (but pervasive difficulties) of Total Quality Management (TQM). The Total Quality Management (TQM) organisation rates victories over its own incompetence as equal to wins over the competition. Cassandra identifies the internal enemies, and Hector defeats them by brisk and well-planned action. This is the old one-two beloved of boxers. It should be just as much adored by managers. After all, $1 million added to profits by eliminating waste is worth the same as $1 million made by selling more.

The internal victories are usually much easier to make, and the opportunities are never-ending. The Total Quality Management (TQM) principle that everything can always and for ever be improved can be verified every hour of every day. Become your own Cassandra. Pick an activity at random, and see if you get a result like this, taken from the real life of a famous multi-national company:

1. You ring the switchboard and ask to speak to an upper-middle manager.
2. The operator asks if he is expecting the call. You fib, and say 'Yes'.
3. The operator says she will connect you with the man's PA, but is unable to do so, and suggests you call back later.
4. You ask if you can leave a message, but are told firmly that voicemail is only for the use of the employees.
5. You ask for the man's e-mail address, but are told even more firmly that company policy forbids the release of such information.

TOO BAD TO BE TRUE?
Too bad to be true? What fuddy-duddy corporation could go to such bizarre lengths to prevent people - no doubt, including customers - from contacting its employees? The fuddy-duddy is Microsoft. That is almost unbelievable, but only 'almost'. Companies often sin most where they most profess virtue. Bill Gates may eulogise his 'Digital Nervous System' that links all parts of the business in a real-time network, but the self-praise diverges painfully from the reality.

The pain is primarily felt by the frustrated outsider. It could become acute for the business itself if the malfunction, as it probably does, springs from an inward-looking, self-sustaining bureaucratic culture and a disregard for customers and other external constituents of Microsoft's business.

The most interesting questions, though, are whether the senior executives in companies are aware of such self-defeating policies; and, if not, why not? In most cases, higher-ups don't know what gratuitous errors are being committed, even in head office. Even if faults come to their ears (or eyes), they may not act to remove the defect and reform the systemic failure which always underlies the fault.

For example, even when Marks & Spencer was riding high as Britain's, and even the world's, most admired retail chain, it had some obvious failings. These included window-dressing that year after year fell blatantly short of the best standards. I mentioned this serious defect once to a Very Important Person (since departed). 'Yes,' he replied, 'our windows are awful.' I couldn't help wondering why so highly paid and assertive a manager had let the wound fester. How many phone calls would (or should) have been needed to get the vital window displays right? Two or three?

The driving and driven Simon Marks, the true founder of the company, would roam the business like an avenging angel, seeking out corporate sin. Whether it was a plethora of forms (which he famously once consigned to the bonfire), fresh food kept over the weekend, or shortage of stock on the counters, nothing was too small (or big) to escape his attention. It's TQM philosophy again: search the fertile fields of folly and wisely take the ample opportunities for changing expensive slackness into profitable efficiency.

PLANNED ACTION
You dare not omit any product, component, process or service from this never-ending scrutiny, followed by planned action. All too often, however, the zeal for reform stops a good way below the top of the organisation. Actually, that's where it should begin. When I studied 20 outfits which claimed to have adopted Total Quality Management (TQM), the true successes (a minority, be it noted) had all begun their conversion by trying out the principles and practices on the top echelon. And this literally total involvement had lasted ever since.

The logic is unanswerable. How can top managers expect their subordinates to embrace any discipline that is shunned at the summit? More important still, how can performance throughout the organisation improve if its senior management is bringing poor processes to bear on the key functions of judgment and supervision which affect everything else?

Of all those functions, the decisive one is decision itself. Half of all decisions fail. That's the estimate made by Paul C. Nutt, a professor at Fisher College of Business in Ohio State University. His claim results from 20 years of research into what helps decisions to succeed and what turns them into debacles. The latter are merely conspicuous examples of a disease which has a far wider spread. As Nutt writes in Business Strategy Review, 'a debacle is merely a botched decision that gets a public airing'. Many more failed decisions die unmourned - and unnoticed by the outside world.

Every industry and every organisation can offer plenty of examples to prove Nutt's point. He cites the Millennium Dome on which Britain wasted £955 million in public money and got in return a failed visitor attraction and an unusable, unsaleable building. Then there's Eurodisney, whose cost soared from $2.5 billion to $4.4 billion, and whose launch was blighted by excessive prices and ludicrously high expectations for revenue. Nutt uses the Disney saga to illustrate 'three generic mistakes which characterise many of the failed decisions in my research':

1. Making premature commitments
2. Spending money on the wrong things
3. Using failure-prone decision-making processes

It's evident that the three mistakes are really one. If your decision-making processes are effective, they will prevent premature commitment and limit spending to the right means and ends. Yet Butt believes that 'two-thirds of decisions use failure-prone practices'. One of those feeble methods is to ignore practices altogether - without even thinking of subjecting the reasons for success or failure to systematic analysis. As Nutt wisely writes, people 'spend very little of their time thinking about how to make a decision'. This is a classic and common symptom of the failure mentioned above: knowing what should be done (like improving M&S's windows), but not actually doing it.

PARTICIPATIVE POWER
Nutt cites participation. Nearly everyone involved in the 400 decisions studied was aware of the importance of real participation - early involvement by those who will implement or be affected by the decision; yet 'participation is rarely used'. Participative power is a key factor in Total Quality Management (TQM). It is also one of the practices that avoid Nutt's seven decision-making vices:

(1) not taking charge by reconciling claims;
(2) failing to appreciate barriers to action;
(3) ambiguous aims;
(4) limited search and no innovation;
(5) misusing evaluations;
(6) ignoring ethical questions;
(7) failing to learn.

Best practice demands seven virtuous steps:

1. Network with and involve stakeholders so you know their concerns and requirements.
2. Participate with employees to show that you care about their needs and value their inputs.
3. Set objectives - think clearly about what results are required and feasible, and let everybody know the expectations.
4. Use enquiry and innovative thought to increase the number of options on the table.
5. Evaluate every option, comparing degrees of risk and value of benefits.
6. Audit the options to get a solid idea of the environmental and ethical implications.
7. Look for and remove 'perverse incentives' and encourage people to speak out frankly about their critical views.

The perverse incentive plays a key role in the process of corporate decline and fall described elsewhere in Letter for Thinking Managers. The incentive for keeping quiet about the true causes of debacles or potential disasters is that silence may serve as a protection against blame. The disincentive that prevents speaking out is fear that sleeping dogs will leap up and bite you. That is the personal risk. Avoidance runs a far graver corporate risk: that a bad decision or function left sleeping will undermine the whole enterprise.
Source:thinkmanagers

Importing Data

  1. To import data into a spreadsheet select Data from the menu and click on Import External Data.
  2. Locate the file you would like to download. In this example, we are importing a tab delimited text file called downloadable.txt.
  3. The Text Import Wizard will launch automatically. Make sure Delimited is checked and click Next.
  4. Select Tab and click Next.
  5. Click Finish.
  6. Select where you would like to put the data. You can either put it in the existing worksheet at the specified cell or in a new worksheet.
  7. Here is how the spreadsheet should appear when the data has been successfully imported.

Printing Spreadsheets

  1. Select View from the menu and click on Page Break Preview.
  2. Use the blue lines that appear on the spreadsheet to adjust the page edges for printing.

  3. Source:ischool.utexas.edu


Alignment & Formatting

  • Inserting Data

    To insert data into a cell simply select it (i.e. make it active) and enter your information. Excel has a useful auto entry function that enables you to simply drag from the bottom right-hand corner of a cell to populate cells in any direction. After a few entries, Excel is often capable of deciphering the pattern that you are creating and can fill in remaining cells based on the pattern. To test this feature, start by typing a sequence of numbers and then highlight those cells and drag downward from the bottom right-hand corner of the last cell you entered data into.

  • Inserting Formulas & Functions

    Functions always begin with an = sign. You can insert functions just like you are entering text or numbers and when you press enter, the result of your function will appear.

  • Inserting Columns

    You can insert columns into a worksheet by:

    1. Right clicking, and
    2. Selecting Insert from the menu.

    Or by...

    1. Clicking on the Insert tab, and
    2. Selecting Columns

  • Inserting Rows

    You can insert rows into a worksheet by:

    1. Right clicking, and
    2. Selecting Insert from the menu.

    Or by

    1. Clicking on the Insert tab, and
    2. Selecting Rows

  • Copying Data

    To copy data in cells

    1. Select one or more cells
    2. Select Edit in the menu
    3. Select Copy

  • Formatting Cells

    To format cells

    1. Select Format in the menu
    2. Select Cells...

    There are a number of different format options in Excel. For example, you may want to specify how numbers in a given cell should appear.

    You may also need to align data within a cell. For example, you can adjust the horizontal and vertical alignment and/or make the characters within a cell wrap to fit a particular cell size.

    This shows how a cell with Wrap Text selected will appear.

    You have numerous options available in the Formatting Toolbar to adjust the appearance of you spreadsheet.

    To add/remove borders in your spreadsheet, you can use the Borders Button.

Source:ischool.utexas.edu

Step 1

Open Photoshop and create a new document, for the canvas size I used 1920x1200 pixels.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 2

Apply a Layer Style to the background layer, use Gradient Overlay. Use Radial for the Style and for the Colors use #101213 and #253239 for the colors. Also increase the Scale to 141%.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 3

Let's use an image of the King of Pop... I got this one from the http://www.mjjpictures.com/main.html it's the famous leaning move. With the Pen Tool (P) or Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) extract MJ from the background.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 4

Position MJ in the center of the document and then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 2.0 for the Radius.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 5

Now go to Image>Adjustments>Hue and Saturation. Reduce the Saturation to -100. After that go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. Increase the Black Input to 140 e the white to 212.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 6

With the Ellipse Tool (U) create an ellipse like the image below, then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 90 pixels for the Radius. Create another ellipse and repeat the Gaussian Blur, this time however, use 20 pixels for the Radius. Group these 2 ellipses and then change the Blend Mode of the group to Color Dodge.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 7

With the Pen Tool (P) create the spot light, then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 80 pixels for the Radius. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay than duplicate this layer 2 times. You will have 3 layers.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 8

With the Pen Tool (P) create another triangle like the image below just to make the light brighter towards the top and middle. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 80 pixels for the radius. Also add another layer and then with the Brush Tool (B), use a big round brush with white for the color. Paint a spot of light at the top. After that group these 2 layers and change the Blend Mode of the group to Color Dodge.

The last thing here is to add some sparks. I've written quite a few tutorials explaining how to do that you can check this out: http://abduzeedo.com/amazing-photoshop-light-effect-10-steps

Add another layer inside the group with Color Dodge and then paint some sparks like the image below.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 9

Add another layer on top of the others and go to Filter>Render>Clouds. Make sure you had black and white for the background and foreground colors. Then change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. After that with the Eraser Tool (E) select a big soft brush and start deleting the layer, leave just some very small areas close to the lights.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Step 10

Select the MJ layer and change the Blend Mode to Color Dodge. Then with the Pen Tool (P) create a black triange to use as the MJ shadow. Then with the Eraser Tool (E) delete the end with a very soft brush. Also you will have to duplicate the MJ layer and change the Blend Mode to Normal then delete the rest of the layer and just leave the feet. We have to that because with the Color Dodge Blend Mode the black becomes transparent so MJ's shoes wouldn't appear.

Tribute to Michael Jackson Photoshop Tutorial

Conclusion

Select all layers and duplicate them, then go to Layer>Merge Layers. After that go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Use 15 pixels for the Radius and change then Blend Mode to Screen. That's it, our little tribute to the King of Pop, full of light effects and magic like his music. Now it's all about playing with the tool and creating your own version! Cheers ;)

Michael Jackson Tribute

Source:abduzeedo.com

Step 1

First create a new document, with white background. The size should be around 700x1000px.

Step 2

Let's create a stylish background! The main element of it will be a victorian grunge texture. It's much bigger than our canvas, so resize it. Create a new folder called "background". Create a new layer in that folder and paste the texture. Name the texture "victorian".

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 3

Now you'll need a grunge texture pack. I downloaded this. Extract your package and open one. (open 03.jpeg if you use the same pack as I do) Resize it and paste into a new layer called "grunge". Set it's bland mode to Multiply. Don't be scared, it should disappear. Now select "victorian" layer and go to Layer> Layer mask> Reveal all. Select the Gradient tool (G) and select Linear gradient. Make the gradient from the bottom of the canvas to it's top. If you want a perfect line, hold down the Shift key.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 4

Looks cool, isn't it? And we only used 2 textures so far! Let's make it even better! Download a Rising sun brush pack. Head to brusheezy.com to do that. Here is the link for the brushes. Load it, choose the color #bfb385 pick one of the brushes, and paint it on a new layer called "rising". Go to Layer> Layer mask> Reveal all and do the same mask as we did in Step 3. (Linear gradient from the bottom to the top with white foreground and black background color) Set the layer's blending mode to Soft light.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 5

Now we need some nice clouds. Head to brusheezy.com again, and search for cloud brushes. I used this pack. Believe me, it's a pack that every designer must have. Create a new layer in the background folder. Name it "clouds". Select one of the cloud brushes and paint it to the new layer. I suggest you pushing the mouse button twice to make it look stronger. That's it, we have a really stylish grungy background.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 6

Here comes the most important step: finding our skater. I found a really cool photo on deviantART by Grape-Stock. Here is the link to it. Grab the Pen tool (P) and put anchor points all over the skater's outline. Don't forget to zoom in to make a nice selection. If you're ready, pick the Path selection tool (A), right-click on your path and select Make selection. If you feel like your path isn't perfect, set 1px for Feather radious. Now you're skater is selected, press Ctrl+Shift+I to inverse the selection, this way you'll select everything but the skater. If you don't like using hot keys, go to Select> Inverse to do this. You have to use this technique to delete the background between the skater's legs.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 7

Now create a new layer called "skater" above the "background" folder and paste your skater. Place it somewhere around the clouds. If the skater's edges are wrong somewhere, grab a smooth eraser to correct it. Now we have to edit the colors of the skater. Go to Image> Adjustments> Hue/saturation and set the saturation to -50. If you use an other picture, you may need to set it to something else. Now go to Image> Adjustments> Brightness/contrast and set the contrast to 100.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 8

OK it looks pretty cool so far. Now we'll add the text to the top. Create a new folder called "text bg.". It have to be placed between the "skater" and the "background" folder. Now we need a lot of paper textures. I got some from DA. Check out this, this and this. You only have to search for "paper texture" on DA or head over to texturelovers.com. It's a brand new site with tons of textures. So open some paper textures with PS and cut out little pieces from them. Then paste the pieces into the "text bg." folder. Don't forget to name the layers. The name should the letter you'll place on it. So if your text will be skate or die, name them s, k, a, t, e and so on. Try to use different paper textures, or always paste different parts of one texture. Move and resize the pieces with the Free transform (Ctrl+T). If you don't like the color of the tone of a paper, go to Image> Adjustments> Color/saturation and set the amounts. To make the paper more realistic, make tears with a default eraser shape shown on the picture below.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 9

Wow, it was quite long time to make that. Now it's an easier step. Create a new folder called "text" above "text bg.". We'll put our letters in this folder. Go to dafont.com. This site is one of the best source of free fonts. On the top of the page you can see categories. Choose Fancy> Distorted and download some of them. I suggest you trying this, this, this and this. Now put your letters to your background. try to use as many different fonts as you can. Resize and move them with Free transform (Ctrl+T).

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 10

Give the text more style. Create a new folder between "text bg." and "text", nad name it text effects. Download webdesignerdepot.com's awesome brush freebie here. It will perfectly fit our design. Pick the color of your fonts and create a new layer in "text effects". Paint with your new brushes behind the letters.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Step 11

Here come the final touches. The next steps depend on you. Go back to brusheezy.com and download some grungy, splatter, punk brushes. It's your choice. In the tutorial I'm using this, this and the previously downloaded pack from webdesignerdepot.com.Paint something behind the skater, that should look cool. Remember to create it on a new layer, placed behind the skater. An other thing you can try is to make a copy of the "skater" layer, place it behund the original one, set it totally black, and apply Gaussian blur on it with 10px of Radius.

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Conclusion

I think it was an extremely easy tutorial, so it's an ideal tut for beginners to get to know with layers, blending modes and textures. Here's our very own stylish skater poster:

Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop

Wanna make it sick?

Head over to sxc.hu and search for dog photos. use the techniques you learned in this tutorial to select the og's head and replace it with your skater's head.


Image selected for Reader Tutorial: Create a Grungy Poster In Photoshop



Source:abduzeedo.com

Case Study

Unless I’m doing something a bit abstract I’ll start with an image for reference, then make a sketch. For this case study I chose something fairly simple - some lips. Here I’ve scanned in the sketch and popped into Photoshop.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 1

Once I’ve arranged the size and composition, it’s into Corel Painter where I’ll chose the base colours for the image. Sometimes I use kuler.adobe.com to help chose a base colour scheme but I mostly keep it a fairly random process (as with most things) and I don’t always stick to the colours I originally chose, adding new ones in as I go along depending on what I think fits best.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 2

Next I normally start making sure I’ve got a bit of a rough outline going before blocking the colours in. If it’s a more detailed image I’ll concentrate lots of detail on the areas I want to stand out the most, which if I’m drawing a person is usually the eyes and mouth.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 3

Next I’ve blocked in the colours and worked out where I want everything to go. I added a nice bright blue in for the background. I love using lots of bright colours and almost always use at least one fully saturated colour or I have some neon acrylics at home which usually scan in quite brightly.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 4

From here I just keep adding more and more details. In more complicated images I usually end up with hundreds of layers, which I merge as I go along to keep Painter working quickly.

The different brushes I use are also fairly random, I like to use lots of different brushes for different effects such as chalk and acrylics and the Real Bristle brushes.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 5

Once I’ve got something I’m happy with I print it off to use as reference for when the actual painting starts.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 6

I use lots of different types of paints: watercolour; acrylics, sometimes oil (but I’m often too impatient to let things dry), marbelling, airbrushing, ink, I also take photos of textures or things I think will fit in with the image.

I do a lot of mark making and things just for texture but I also paint parts of the image so that I can fit it into the picture I’ve got.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Meanwhile, Hugo the trusty Basset Hound helps me chose my materials…

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 7

Once I’ve got lots of different images I pop it all into Photoshop and start playing, cuttings things out, overlaying or using different layer effects moving things around and blending them in to fit in with the main image.

Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter

Conclusion

That’s about it really! I tried to make it sound complicated but it’s really not. Here’s the final result:


Fantastic Digital Painting Image in Photoshop and Corel Painter


Source:abduzeedo.com

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